January 16, 2005


How CBS' Big Story Fell Apart (James Rainey and Scott Gold, January 16, 2005, LA Times)

Dan Rather was on the run, chasing big stories from New York to Florida to Texas and back to CBS headquarters in Manhattan. In less than a week: The Republican National Convention. A deadly hurricane. An interview for a blockbuster CBS investigation. Former President Clinton's open-heart surgery.

Exhausted and stretched to the limit, the veteran anchorman didn't find time that week to learn much about a news source named Lt. Col. Bill Burkett, he would later explain.

Rather, 73, recalled somewhat vaguely that he had heard from his star producer that Burkett was a "straight-talking West Texan" with a reputation as a "truth teller." Had he turned to Google, though, the CBS anchorman would have found stories painting Burkett as something quite different: a highly controversial and disgruntled retired military man who had led the media astray before.

But Rather relied on the research of that producer, Mary Mapes, as both put their trust in Burkett. That fateful convergence helped produce a terribly flawed report that said President Bush shirked his military duty, a story that would backfire and cost Mapes and three others at CBS their jobs, while tarnishing Rather's storied career.

One MSM outlet excusing the, at least, gross incompetence of the star of another and they wonder why no one trusts them anymore? Here's a fairly basic question--should anyone be allowed to report the news who can't figure out Googling?

Posted by Orrin Judd at January 16, 2005 9:35 AM

Moreover, Dan himself, as head of the news division, said he was responsible and had thoroughly checked out the memos, sources, and expert opinion. He said the source of the documents was 'unimpeachable'.

Posted by: jd watson at January 16, 2005 10:04 AM

Even today, if you asked Rather about Googling, he'd probably tell you he uses Scope or Listerine.

Posted by: John at January 16, 2005 1:43 PM

When are the Republicans going to start freezing out the MSM until they start employing more conservatives in high places? A pointed refusal to go on CNN for example, along with a statement as to the bias of that network, would go a long way to pushing the liberals out.

Posted by: Bart at January 16, 2005 2:35 PM

Haven't you heard, CNN and the networks are in the pocket of the "repugs". It's the liberals who are being silenced and shut out...at least that's what bloggers @ [unnamed liberal] websites lament. Dan Rather is a hero in their eyes, a true champion of truth and justice; those fired are considered martyrs to the cause.

Posted by: Dave W. at January 16, 2005 10:19 PM
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